We Should All Pay More Attention to the Australian Music Scene

By Emily Jade Ricalton

Each country has a different representation of ‘music’. Each representation can differ depending on the style they are fascinated on. But, the majority of the time, as music fans, all we do is talk about the same movements, subcultures and industries over and over again. And, I can tell you one thing, Britpop isn’t as great as we make it out to be, especially as that’s all we seem to talk about in relation to the British music scene.

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But, there tends to be more than just British indie rock and glamourous, and well-funded, American music. See, there’s currently a tiny culture of talented, fresh and new musicians coming out of the largest country in Oceania. At this moment in time, Australia is paving the way for new musicians to form a scene of indie rock that is twinned with the ethereal sounds of psychedelic music. A modern take on Jimmy Hendrix, maybe? A possibility that I think modern music fans should start to explore and embrace more vividly.

Many young and impressionable fans may believe I am referring to the likes of Flume – an Aussie record producer who focusses on programmed sounds and DJ-like qualities to his music. You may know him from his most famous tracks, such as ‘Never Be Like You’ and ‘Say It’, both of which dominated the mainstream music scene within 2016. Even though Flume, A.K.A Harley Streten, has helped to form this platform of attention for Australian musicians, he hasn’t exactly brought awareness to the talented stars that are hidden away within this isolated country.

You see, when I talk about the Australian music scene, I’m actually referring to acts such as Tame Impala (my personal favourite), Ocean Alley, Sticky Fingers and many others yet to be named. Bands like these have brought a sudden rush of attention to the raw, yet beautiful sounds of their country. Personally, for me, I find the sounds of Australia mesmerising. They’re unique in their own way. Not only are they delicate in their progressions, but they allow their listeners to reflect back to a 1970s summer, where all people were fixated on were bands like ‘Pink Floyd’ and ‘Fleetwood Mac’. It’s a sound of nostalgia, heat and positivity, representing life as one simple dream.

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Eventually terrible memories turn into great ones

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A bit deep, I’m aware. But this specific music scene needs more attention, and I’m hoping this article will raise awareness of that. Within music magazines, such as NME, publishing their brand in Australia and creating new Australian-based categories within their award ceremonies, it’s obvious to see that this is a culture that is worth recognising and paying attention to.

Unlike Flume, the Perth-based psychedelic, rock project, Tame Impala, has helped to build the way for new Australian bands who aim at entering the music industry with a current and fresh perspective of this artistic industry. Tame Impala itself is led by the multi-instrumentalist, Kevin Parker, who uses musicians, Jay Watson, Cam Avery, Julien Barbagallo and Dominic Simper, to play as a live band with him whilst on tour – the remaining band members of ‘Pond’, another great example of this flourishing music scene. The project itself began in 2007, with Parker forming the project in the safety of his own home, posting snippets of his work online and on social media websites, such as MySpace. 

This created mass attention from larger record companies, such as Modular Recordings, who proceeded sign Tame Impala onto a record label within the space of a year. Now, if this doesn’t scream talent, then I don’t know what does. From 2008 onwards, Parker had released around two EPS and three albums, creating mass hysteria around the sounds of Australian musicians and their impact upon the world of music. Not only had Tame Impala’s debut album, ‘Innerspeaker’, won Triple J’s award for ‘Album of the Year’, but Parker’s second album, ‘Lonerism’, had further won NME’s ‘Album of the Year’, sparking-up a Grammy Award nomination in December 2013. It was obvious to see that Kevin Parker was having an impact upon the global music industry, emphasising the success of Australian music on a much wider scale. Not only had Parker been working on his own music within this 12-year timeline, but he had helped to produce and create music with well-established American musicians, such as Lady Gaga, Travis Scott and SZA. From Tame Impala, we have seen a progression within the popularity of Aussie music, emphasising its impact on the industry and the importance of this desired sound that all musicians seem to aspire to achieve.

From the success and popularity of Tame Impala, bands, such as the ones mentioned above, have been given a platform to create music on an increasingly wider scale. In 2008, not only did we see the creation of this highly-regarded music project, but we also saw the creation of Sticky Fingers and Pond; two psychedelic rock bands that have also reached global success, with Sticky Fingers certifying their first album, ‘Caress Your Soul’ (2013), as platinum within both Australia and New Zealand. As well as this, the Sydney-based band sold out a tour of Australia in 2015 without announcing it online or within the media as a whole. Becoming Australia’s favourite band definitely wasn’t a challenge for the reggae-inspired five-piece.

But 2008 wasn’t the only year that inspired the movement of Australian psychedelic rock. In more recent years, ‘Dope Lemon’, Angus Stone, created a persona in 2016 that would encompass the definition of Australian-based music and the sounds of this specific region. Just like Parker, Stone goes under the performance pseudonym of ‘Dope Lemon’ to capture a psychedelic image that is fascinating and unique to the wide variety of sounds involved within global image of the music industry. His debut album ‘Honey Bones’, which arrived in the spring of 2016, became a constructed sound of folk music, encompassing a smooth and chilled sound that was so incredibly iconic of Australia’s easy-going culture. As quoted in one review, Stone’s ‘Honey Bones’ has a ‘sardonic, poetic style’, featuring ‘filtered and delayed’ vocals that lend the album its ‘psychedelic edge’, making it pleasant and enjoyable to listen to –just like the majority of Australian-based musicians, ones of which I’ve named above (if I haven’t already emphasised the importance of this music scene enough already).

However, it isn’t only bands and male artists that are paving the incredible intelligence of this inspiring culture of music. Tash Sultana, a 24-year-old Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, is someone to definitely pay attention to whilst considering the fascination around Australian music. Tash’s style of music is sleek and well-constructed. After stumbling upon her music whilst watching a series of Triple J covers, I found her music astoundingly breath-taking. She has a voice that is angelic, encompassing her sound with raw instruments and repetitive loop-pedals that make her music memorizing to its listener. Not only is Sultana a credit to the Australian sound, but she is also an inspiration to the female music scene. She gives women involved within music a creditability that is incredibly inspiring, showing this male-dominated industry that women can be and will always be just as talented as their peers. Being noted as a ‘one-person band’, and receiving multiple awards and statuses from Triple J, a government-funded and national Australian radio station, Tash Sultana is definitely an artist to look out for. In just a matter of months, she has become one of my favourite artists from this amazing music scene, giving you no excuse not to check out some of the best musicians dominating today’s current and diverse music culture.